An otherwise exceptional year of sales and profits at Hibbett Sports was soiled somewhat late in the fourth quarter as consumer demand deteriorated, forcing the company to alert investors that it would come up short against earlier guidance. The 767-unit Hibbett chain continued to execute its strategy, but really bad weather in many of the company’s markets coupled with a slower-than-expected flow of tax refunds negatively affected results.
The company isn’t due to report fourth quarter results until March 11, but late Tuesday it indicated same-store sales for the period ended January 29 were 1.3%, significantly below prior guidance in the mid single-digit range, while total sales advanced 4% to $173.5 million. As a result, the company reduced its forecast profit range to between 42 cents to 44 cents, compared to earlier guidance of 47 cents to 50 cents. Full year profits are now forecast at $1.58 to $1.60.
“After a strong start to the quarter, we were disappointed with comparable store sales in the latter half of January. Factors affecting our sales performance include a delay in income tax rapid refunds and inclement weather issues throughout many of our markets,” said Jeff Rosenthal, Hibbett’s president and CEO.
Despite deceleration late in the month, it was a record year for the Birmingham, Ala.-based retailer who is best known for operating smaller format stores that average around 5,000 sq. ft. and are a fraction of the size of the big boxes operates by industry leaders Dick’s Sporting Goods and The Sports Authority. For the full year, Hibbett’s same-store sales increase was an impressive 9.8%, and total sales increased 12.1% to $665.3 million.